When the pandemic hit, many couples were forced to postpone their weddings into 2021 and 2022. While some couples are able to jump back into wedding planning and pick up right where they left off, after more than a year of dealing with COVID-19 and related issues, others are taking a second look at their guest list. And, due to changing circumstances, the latter group are realizing that some of their 2020 wedding guests may not make the cut for their rescheduled nuptials.
For example, maybe you and your work BFF were super tight when you shared an office space. However, once the pandemic hit and your company went remote, you lost touch—and at this point, you haven’t spoken in more than a year. Or, maybe your 2020 wedding budget could easily accommodate 150 guests, but after going through some financial challenges, you’re now only able to host 100.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: rescinding a wedding invitation can feel uncomfortable; however, there are steps that you can take to minimize the discomfort for you and your guests.
Let’s take a look at how to let people know that they’re no longer invited to your wedding:
Before you go uninviting people to your big day, it’s important to make sure that cutting down your wedding guest list is the right move—particularly if your reason for uninviting guests is due to budgetary reasons.
If you’re following proper etiquette, “Ideally, everyone who was originally invited should be invited again, including those people who declined the first time around,” says Nick Leighton, host of the weekly etiquette podcast Were You Raised By Wolves?.
“If the circumstances or budget has changed, it'd be better to modify the event rather than modify the guest list,” continues Leighton.
For example, if you no longer have the budget to accommodate your large guest list, you might “scale the wedding down to just family and then have a separate reception at some other time to which the entire guest list can be invited,” says Leighton. Or, instead of investing in a pricey three-course meal for your wedding reception, you might keep your costs down with a more casual buffet—which would allow you to feed more guests for a lower budget.
The point is, if you’re thinking about minimizing your guests because of budget concerns, there are adjustments that you can make to your wedding planning. Those changes will allow you to keep your wedding guest list intact—and save you the hassle and discomfort of uninviting people to your special day.
If you do decide to move forward with uninviting guests—whether that’s to cut down on costs, or for a completely unrelated reason (for instance, you’ve lost touch with the guest during the pandemic)—it’s best to let them know as soon as possible.
“If you're going to do [uninvite guests], do it quickly,” says Leighton. “This doesn't get better or easier the longer you wait.”
Letting your guests know ASAP that they’re no longer invited can also stave off any additional uncomfortable or awkward situations in the future. The earlier that you can share your update, the better, so as to avoid an uninvited guest buying you an expensive gift or booking travel thinking that he or she is invited to your rescheduled wedding.
How you uninvite someone to your wedding will depend on the person, the circumstances, and your relationship.
“Kindness is key, but there's no one-size-fits-all approach,” says Leighton. “If you simply must uninvite someone, then how that's done will depend on what approach will be the most mindful and respectful of that person's feelings.”
For example, if you invited a few casual friends from work to your original wedding (but haven’t spoken to them since you moved on to a new job), a simple email letting them know that you’re downsizing your guest list—but would love to catch up over coffee soon—would be appropriate. But, if you’re having to uninvite closer friends or family members, and want to keep the relationship intact, a more personal approach (for example, a phone call, Zoom, or in-person conversation) would be a better bet.
When you’re breaking the news to people, “keep it simple,” says NYC-based Wedding Planner Emily Monus. “Affirm your love for them and how you wish you could include everyone, ask for their understanding of how difficult planning a wedding during COVID has been, and [let them know that] you'd love to celebrate with them at a later date.”
If the thought of uninviting guests is overwhelming—but, for whatever reason, you can’t host all your original invited guests at your rescheduled event—we have good news for you! Just because you can’t (or don’t want to) include someone in your physical wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t include them at all on the wedding day. Thanks to technology, you can avoid completely uninviting guests—and instead, just invite them to attend online.
“You can also offer a virtual option so folx can still be involved,” says Monus. “This has been an incredibly effective compromise for people who still want folx to be included—but just not in person. It’s a great addition to help assuage the negative feelings that some might have about no longer being invited to the physical wedding.”
For example, you can livestream your wedding ceremony so that people can see you say your “I dos”—even if they’re not there in person. Or, if livestreaming isn’t an option, you might carve out a few minutes before or after the wedding to make a “Zoom toast” and celebrate with your virtual guests.
Offering a way for guests to virtually participate in your big day is “the best compromise in being able to include more people and make sure that guests don't feel ‘left behind,’” says Monus.
As mentioned, uninviting people to your wedding is probably not going to be the most fun or comfortable experience. But, try not to stress about it; chances are that people will be more understanding than you think. “As we all have been through the tumultuous last year, it has been my experience that the people who love you won't want to make this more stressful than it already has been, and will be understanding and respectful when learning about your reduced guest list,” says Monus.
And if they’re not understanding—and react negatively—try to remind yourself that you’re not responsible for their feelings. As long as you’re kind in your delivery, how they react is their problem, not yours. “Keep in mind that any reaction from an uninvited person is not about you, and you aren't responsible for keeping everyone happy,” says Monus.